Second thoughts on Caps' loss in Ottawa

Second thoughts on Caps' loss in Ottawa
December 31, 2013, 1:15 pm
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Highlights: Senators 3, Capitals 1

Sudden thoughts and second thoughts as the Capitals return home after Monday night’s 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators:

How it happened: The Caps grabbed a quick lead when Joel Ward backhanded a shot past Craig Anderson for his 12th goal of the season.  It was just 2:11 into the game, but that was the only puck Craig Anderson would allow past him as the Caps fell to the U.S. Olympic hopeful for the second straight night. Ryan Miller made 49 saves Sunday night in Buffalo.

"When you make the goalie hot, he's going to play hot," said Caps captain Alex Ovechkin. At the other end of the ice,  Caps rookie Philipp Grubauer had another solid effort with 35 saves. Grubauer is 1-2-1 in his last four starts and is likely to take a back seat to Braden Holtby when the Caps return to action Thursday night at home against Carolina.

What it means: The Caps remain in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 45 points, three ahead of the third-place Philadelphia Flyers, who have won three in a row and have a game in hand.

Ovi watch: Ovechkin has played four straight games without a point. It’s the longest he’s gone without a point under Adam Oates. His last four-game pointless streak was from Nov. 12-19, 2011 under Bruce Boudreau.

What they said: Despite back-to-back losses, Oates seems to think the Caps are playing solid hockey. “It was a very close game," he said. "Second period, we had our chances to get a couple of goals and we didn't, and then we gave them one and it was an uphill battle for the third period, and we just didn't get it done. But there are things that are encouraging in the way we're playing. They're fighting for their points. They're a good hockey team, and we've just got to figure out ways to play a little better every night."

Dirty hit? Senators forward Chris Neil took a run at Ovechkin midway through the first period, clipping him in the head with his shoulder. Neil suffered a lower body injury on the play and did not return, but Ovechkin thought he should have been penalized.

"I saw him,” Ovechkin said. “I thought he was going to hit me shoulder-to-shoulder and I was ready, but he hit me right in the head, right at the chin. I asked the referee why he didn't see it, and he said, 'Ah, I didn't see it.'"

Look ahead: The Caps are off today and practice Wednesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in preparation for Thursday’s game against the Hurricanes, which represents the halfway mark of their season.